A week before the 50th anniversary of the civil rights icon’s death, former President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder joined other dignitaries at Arlington National Cemetery to honor Medgar Evers where he was laid to rest.
Evers was shot in the back and killed by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith on June 12, 1963, as he and his family carried NAACP T-shirts that read ”Jim Crow Must Go” into their home.
His widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, spoke at the event about her husband’s sacrifice and the importance of carrying on his legacy.
“I can hear Medgar’s voice saying, ‘I thank all of you for believing in me but it’s really not necessary. Just get out there and prove that you believe in me and that you believe in my country–which is our country,’” she said.
“We pay tribute to him and he will forever life in our hearts. And may we go beyond today and do what we can to build beyond his image,” she said. “Bring in the young people. Exchange ideas. See where we can go from this point to build the kind of America that Medgar believed in. To build the kind of America that he was willing to give his life for so that we can all one day be able to say, I played my part. Thank you, Medgar Evers, for playing yours.”
Clinton spoke about how the year of Evers’ murder “was an amazing year in the course of our nation’s struggle for a more perfect union,” and praised both Medgar and Myrlie for their civil rights work.